Stats & Info: LeSean McCoy

Keys to victory: Saints 26, Eagles 24

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5

Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsMark Ingram helped lead a Saints rushing attack that racked up 185 yards against the Eagles

The New Orleans Saints picked up the first road playoff win in their franchise’s history Saturday – here’s how they got it done:

Flipped the script
During the regular season the Philadelphia Eagles were the most productive running team in the NFL at 160.4 yards per game. The Saints held them to half their average at an even 80 yards. The Saints defense held LeSean McCoy to 2.9 yards per rush between the tackles, his second-lowest average this season and the lowest allowed by the Saints. The Eagles lost all three games this season when McCoy averaged 3.0 yards per rush or fewer between the tackles.

New Orleans, meanwhile, averaged 92.1 yards per game on the ground, but exploded for 185 on Saturday. That’s good for second-most in Saints playoff history.

Mark Ingram filled in for the injured Pierre Thomas and rushed for 97 yards and a score. The 97 yards are the second-most Ingram has racked up in any game in his pro career. Ingram ran for 73 yards on designed rushes to the right, including his 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Brees bounces back from rough first half
Drew Brees was 10-18 for 98 yards and two interceptions in the first half. Brees’ teams had been 0-3 all-time in games in which he had thrown a pick. But Brees bucked that trend by bouncing back in the second half – completing 10 of 12 passes for 152 yards and a score.

At the end of the first half, Brees' QBR was 12.9. In the second half, it was 93.5.

ESPN Stats & Information

Limited Foles’ downfield opportunities
Nick Foles led the NFL with 9.1 yards per pass attempt during the regular season. Saturday he averaged 5.9 yards per attempt.

The Saints held the Eagles to one play of 25 yards or more, tied for the fewest by the Eagles in a game this season. The Eagles led the NFL with 62 such plays during the regular season.

That one play was a 40-yard catch by Desean Jackson, who was otherwise neutralized. Other than that big play he had two catches for 13 yards.

Eagles turnaround a product of play action

December, 31, 2013

Jeffrey G. Pittenger/USA TODAY SportsNo matter the circumstance, Nick Foles could not be stopped in 2013.
Following the Philadelphia Eagles' Week 8 loss to the New York Giants, the team fell to No. 26 in the weekly NFL Power Rankings and the Chip Kelly experiment appeared to be failing. Since then, Nick Foles and the offense have found their form, and the Eagles have ascended to 11th in the rankings.

How good is the Eagles offense though? And what changed?

The difference from the first half of the season to the second half for the Eagles’ offense is pretty stark, as the team averaged 11.5 points more per game over the last eight games of the season.

The Eagles led the league in scoring from the start of Week 9 to the end of the season, committing the fewest turnovers during that stretch.

The Eagles’ offensive potency was due to a two-pronged attack, leading the NFL in average yards per rush and pass attempt this season. The last team to lead the league in both was the 2001 St. Louis Rams, who lost in the Super Bowl that season.

LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing this season, and actually gained more yards on the ground than 10 NFL teams, including the Eagles’ Wild Card opponent the New Orleans Saints.

The rushing offense saw a moderate jump over the second half of the season, going from 5.0 yards per rush to 5.3. The passing game saw the biggest increase. The Eagles averaged 9.9 yards per pass the last eight games of the season, a 2.2 yard increase.

Also helping matters was the pace of the offense. The Eagles averaged a play every 24.0 seconds of possession this season, the fastest pace in the last 13 seasons.

Foles didn’t make his season debut in Week 9 though, so what changed in Philadelphia that led to such a dramatic increase in offense?

For starters, the Eagles continued to add wrinkles to the offense, specifically play action off the zone read.

The Eagles used the zone read 304 times this season, 135 times more than the next highest team. The zone read offers a natural setup for play action, but the Eagles used a play fake on 24 percent of their passes the first eight games. Over the last eight games, that usage increased to 39 percent.

The Eagles’ play action passes were effective throughout the season, but adding more attempts and the more efficient Foles made the plays a staple of the offense.

Foles’ efficiency helped matters. Foles completed 64 percent of his passes this season with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions, the best touchdown-interception ratio in NFL history.

Michael Vick and Matt Barkley combined to complete 56 percent of their passes this season with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Vick and Barkley played a combined 11 snaps from Week 9 and on, after recording 208 more snaps than Foles the first half of the season.

Matchups to watch: Eagles at Cowboys

December, 27, 2013
With Tony Romo out when the Philadelphia Eagles come to town for a Week 17 divisional showdown, all eyes will be on the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton.

But despite the quarterbacks garnering many of the headlines, the key to success for the Cowboys will be establishing DeMarco Murray on the ground.

DeMarco Murray vs. Eagles rush defense
LeSean McCoy may be the better-known running back, but Murray has actually averaged more yards per carry this season (5.4 for Murray to 5.1 for McCoy). In fact, only rookie Andre Ellington (5.7) has averaged more yards per carry than Murray among qualified running backs.

However, Murray faces an Eagles front seven that has flown under the radar this season. Over the last five weeks, the Eagles have held opponents to 2.9 yards per carry, the fewest in the league during that span.

In their previous meeting, which Murray missed due to injury, the Cowboys were held to 2.9 yards per carry, their fewest against the Eagles in their last 10 games.

While the Eagles rush defense has improved during the course of the season, the Cowboys front seven has moved in the opposite direction.

LeSean McCoy vs. Cowboys Linebackers
While Romo’s absence is certainly noteworthy, the Cowboys defense will again be missing their star linebacker, Sean Lee. The Cowboys have allowed 5.2 yards per carry this season without Lee on the field. Only the Bears, who McCoy gashed for 7.4 yards per carry last week, have allowed more yards per carry this season.

But one of the biggest defensive struggles for the Cowboys has been defending receivers out of the backfield. Dallas has allowed eight receiving touchdowns to running backs, the most in the league.

McCoy has averaged 11.8 yards after the catch on his receptions this season, the highest mark in the NFL.

The Cowboys may struggle to defend running backs, but the Eagles find trouble against wide outs.

Dez Bryant vs. Eagles secondary
Even without Romo under center, Dez Bryant could not have asked for a better matchup to close out the season. The Eagles pass defense ranks last in all three major categories against opposing wide receivers.

In their previous game this season, Bryant tied his career-high with 17 targets, hauling in eight passes for 110 yards.

While Bryant had one of his best games against the Eagles, the Philadelphia tight ends disappeared against the Cowboys.

Eagles Tight Ends vs. Cowboys secondary
Nick Foles has some recognizable options in McCoy and DeSean Jackson, but his favorite targets may be his tight ends. Foles has averaged 9.1 yards per attempt when targeting his tight ends.

Only Colin Kaepernick has a higher average when targeting tight ends this season. Foles has also yet to throw an interception when throwing to a tight end this season.

The Cowboys have struggled against tight ends as well, allowing the third-most receptions (85) and fifth-most yards (933) this season. In their last meeting, Foles only completed 50 percent (4-of-8) of his passes when throwing to his tight ends, his lowest mark in a game this season.

Matchups to watch: Bears at Eagles

December, 19, 2013

Elsa/Getty ImagesLeSean McCoy has been the best running back on zone reads this season.
Both the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles control their division title destinies with two weeks left in the regular season. Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups between these division leaders.

Eagles zone read vs. Bears defense
The Eagles run the zone read better than any team in the NFL and it’s not close. The Eagles have rushed for 1,479 yards and nine touchdowns on zone-read runs, 886 yards and five touchdowns more than any other team.

There have been seven games in the NFL this season in which a team ran for 100 yards on zone-read rushes, with the Eagles accounting for six of them.

LeSean McCoy has more yards (1,017) and touchdowns (five) on zone-read rushes than any team this season.

Opposing teams have run 12 zone-read rushes against the Bears this season, the fewest any team has faced.

The Bears have been far from impressive in limited action against the zone read. Opposing teams are averaging 9.1 yards per rush on such runs, with only the Lions allowing more (10.1).

Jay Cutler in the Fourth Quarter vs. Eagles defense
Jay Cutler has been at his best in the fourth quarter this season. His Total QBR of 95.2 in the fourth quarter leads the NFL and is on pace to be the second-highest since 2006.

Only Peyton Manning, in his Super Bowl-winning season in 2006 posted a higher fourth-quarter Total QBR than Cutler has in 2013.

Of Cutler’s 16 passing touchdowns this season, eight have come in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 15 minutes last week against the Browns.

But something has to give in the fourth quarter Sunday, as Cutler goes against an Eagles defense that has excelled in such situations this season.

Opposing quarterbacks have posted a Total QBR of 39.8 in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, ninth lowest in the NFL. And much better than their 59.9 opponents' Total QBR in the first three quarters of the game.

Can these offenses be stopped?
The Bears are scoring 29 points per game, second most in the NFL behind the Broncos. The Eagles are the seventh-highest scoring team in the league, putting up 26 points per game. The two teams have not been as strong on the defensive end, as they both rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed.

How many points will be scored Sunday night?

The over/under opened at 56 at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook, the highest total of any game in Week 16. This will be the fourth game for the Bears and 10th game for the Eagles that the Vegas over/under is in the 50s this season.

Times have certainly changed for the Chicago Bears under offensive guru Marc Trestman. In the previous 20 seasons, only one Bears game had an over/under in the 50s.

Top things to know: Chiefs at Eagles

September, 19, 2013

Rob Foldy/USA TODAY SportsAndy Reid, who spent 14 seasons as the Eagles' head coach, returns to his old stomping grounds.
Week 3 of the NFL kicks off tonight as the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs travel to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here are five stats to keep in mind entering this game.

1. Andy Reid takes his 2-0 Chiefs into Philadelphia, where he coached the Eagles for 14 seasons (1999-2012). Reid has more wins than any coach in Eagles history (130) and won six division titles and reached five NFC Championship Games (winning one).

Reid will be the third coach in NFL history to face a team he coached for at least 14 seasons, joining Curly Lambeau (Packers) and Hank Stram (Chiefs).

2. QB Alex Smith has been an instant upgrade for the Chiefs. Smith hasn’t turned the ball over yet this year and has finished drives effectively, two problem areas for Kansas City’s offense last year.

Smith has passed for four touchdowns and, as mentioned above, has not thrown an interception. The Chiefs threw for eight touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2012.

In addition, the Chiefs have scored a touchdown on all five trips into the red zone this season after doing so only 10 times in 37 trips in 2012.

3. The Eagles had the ball for 19:43 in Week 2, their lowest time of possession since Week 17 in 2009. Philadelphia still managed to run 58 plays, or one for every 20.4 seconds of possession.

Only the Bills (21.8) and Broncos (23.2) have fewer seconds of possession per play this season than Philadelphia.

4. QB Michael Vick has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes to WR DeSean Jackson this season despite targeting him 15 yards downfield on average. Vick has improved his completion percentage to Jackson each season with the Eagles.

Going further, Jackson has gained 140 yards after the catch this season, an average of 8.8 YAC per reception. Jackson averaged 5.4 yards after the catch his first five seasons in the NFL.

Misc. Notes
•  The Chiefs are 2-0 after going 2-14 last season. Since the merger (1970), Kansas City is the seventh team to open a season 2-0 after winning two or fewer games the previous season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. None of the previous six teams, however, made the playoffs.

•  Kansas City is looking to start 3-0 for the third time in the last 15 years (2010 and 2003).

•  The Eagles have lost seven straight home games, the longest active home losing streak in the NFL and their longest home losing streak since 1983 (seven games). The Eagles have lost eight straight home games only once, from 1936-37.

•  RB LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage (356), 59 yards ahead of teammate DeSean Jackson, who is second. They have combined for the third-most yards from scrimmage ever by teammates through two games of a season.

Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed gained 693 yards in the first two games of the 1991 season for the Bills; Billy Sims and Dexter Bussey went for 675 yards for the 1980 Detroit Lions.

Eagles' high-speed style works just fine

September, 9, 2013
LeSean McCoy had one of the best games of his career on Monday.
Chip Kelly promised a much different look for the Philadelphia Eagles' offense in his first season as head coach.

His team’s first half may have halted the comments of any doubters regarding whether Kelly’s style could work in the NFL.

Let’s run through the highlights of Kelly’s first win as an NFL head coach, a 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Key to the game: Pace of play
After a hiccup on the opening drive led to a Redskins score, the Eagles’ turbo-speed offense caused the Redskins problem after problem in the game’s first 30 minutes.

The Eagles had 21 first downs at halftime, matching the number of plays run by the Redskins in the first two quarters.

The Eagles had 53 plays by halftime. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the most plays in a first half of an NFL game since the Vikings had 56 on December 13, 1998, against the Ravens.

The Eagles' 26 first-half points matched their high for points in a game from 2012.

Difference maker: LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy had 31 carries for 184 yards, one yard shy of his career high.

McCoy's 34-yard touchdown run was his sixth rushing touchdown of at least 30 yards since 2010, tied with Chris Johnson for the second most in the league during that span.

Only Adrian Peterson has more such rushing touchdowns since 2010 (seven).

McCoy had 178 of those yards on runs that were inside the tackles, his most such yards in any game.

McCoy’s 184 yards rushing were the most in a season opener on the road since Duce Staley ran for 201 for the Eagles in 2000 against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles ran 49 times (their most in a game since 1997) for 263 yards (their most since 2002). They gained 245 yards using the zone read, more than any other team in a game in the past five seasons.

RG III with a rough welcome back
Robert Griffin III had a brief run of success in the Redskins' late comeback, but struggled through much of the game. This marked the first time in his career that he threw multiple interceptions in a game.

Our video-review crew had Griffin III with 11 throws judged to be off-target, the most in any game in his first two seasons in the NFL. His previous high was eight against the Bengals in Week 3 last season.

Griffin was was off-target on 15 percent of his passes in 2012, the fifth-lowest rate in the league.

The Vick-Jackson connection
DeSean Jackson had a huge start to the game for the Eagles, finishing with seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.

It was Jackson’s 16th game with 100 or more receiving yards, fifth-most in team history. The franchise record is 23 by Pete Retzlaff, who played for the team from 1956 to 1966.

Michael Vick threw for two touchdowns ran for another (the 35th of his career, matching the total of another former Eagles quarterback, Randall Cunninghgam) and had an interception-free game. The last time Vick accounted for three scores and didn’t throw an interception was in 2010 against the Redskins, also on "Monday Night Football."

Did You Know?
The Eagles’ safety was the fourth in the NFL in the opening week of the season. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that this is the first Week 1 in NFL history in which there were four safeties.

The Eagles-Redskins game was the 11th game this week decided by seven points or fewer, tied for the most in Week 1 since the merger in 1970. There were also 11 in 2011.

Better comeback: Peterson or Peyton?

November, 15, 2012
Adrian Peterson is having a better comeback season
Adrian Peterson is averaging 112.8 yards rushing per game and a career-high 5.8 yards per carry. In NFL history, only three running backs have ever finished a season at those thresholds: Barry Sanders (1997), O.J. Simpson (1973) and Jim Brown (1958, 1963). Sanders, Simpson and Brown in 1958 were named AP NFL MVP.

The fact that Peterson is flirting with history less than a year after tearing his ACL and MCL should be enough to make him the top comeback story this season, but there are a few more statistical tidbits that only help support that position.

Peterson has averaged 2.8 yards per rush AFTER first contact. It’s his highest rate over the last four seasons, and the second-best rate in the NFL this season (C.J. Spiller, 3.0).

Peterson has needed the power boost because he has faced eight or more defenders in the box on a league-high 57 rushes this season – and even that hasn’t slowed him down. Peterson is averaging a league-best 6.3 yards per rush against such defensive fronts.

You can’t discount his speed, either. Peterson has gained 20-plus yards on 13 runs this season, almost twice as many as the next highest rushers (LeSean McCoy and Spiller, 7). The most 20-yard runs Peterson has had in a season was 20 in 2008.

-- John McTigue

Peyton Manning is having a better comeback season
After missing all of last season with a neck injury, Peyton Manning is -- once again -- playing at an MVP-type level. He leads all qualified quarterbacks with an 84.8 Total QBR. If he were to finish with that number, it would be the second-highest QBR in a season in the last five years. (Last season, Aaron Rodgers finished with an 86.2 Total QBR on his way to winning the league’s MVP award.)

Manning is in the top-5 in most major passing categories, including: touchdowns (21), yards (2,705) completion percentage (69.7) and yards per attempt (8.2). He and Matt Ryan are the only quarterbacks who are in the top-5 in all four categories.

Although his arm strength might not be what it was, Manning still has 16 plays of 30 or more yards, trailing only Josh Freeman for the most such completions. Manning also has the fourth-highest Total QBR on passes traveling 15 or more yards downfield.

Switching teams and getting used to new personnel hasn’t fazed the future Hall-of-Famer, who has the Broncos in first place in the AFC West. Manning is efficient as ever, throwing a touchdown pass every 15.7 attempts and posting a 3.5 touchdown to interception ratio. Both numbers are the second-best of his career, trailing only his 2004 MVP season.

-- Bobby Greenhalgh

(To read AFC West blogger Bill Williamson and NFC North Kevin Seifert's discussion on the Peterson-Peyton debate, click here.)

Vick is not the only problem in Philadelphia

October, 30, 2012
AP Photo/Michael PerezMichael Vick and the Eagles are struggling this season.
After the Philadelphia Eagles' disappointing 30-17 loss at home to the Atlanta Falcons, quarterback Michael Vick acknowledged that he may be headed to the bench. The question is, is that the solution to the Eagles woes? Is it even the most pressing problem they need to address?

The answer lies in the framework of expected points added. You can read the full explanation of expected points here, but the short version is expected points added aggregates the number of points a team is expected to score given the game situation of each play. It's the best way to break down how a team increases (or decreases) its chance of scoring on all plays, not just touchdown plays.

Using expected points we can pinpoint exactly what is preventing the Eagles offense from succeeding this season. And as it turns out, the drop back passing game is not the biggest problem.

In 2010 and 2011 the Eagles led the league in expected points added (EPA) on rushes. Even if we eliminate scrambles the Eagles were still the second best team behind New England. But this season the Eagles are dead last in the NFL in rush EPA when ignoring scrambles, costing themselves nearly 40 points on rush plays. In fact, they are on pace for the worst rush EPA since 2008.

So what's been wrong with Philadelphia this season compared to the past two? Well, it's not scrambling. Vick is still improvising with his legs. Only RG3 and surprise runner Andrew Luck have added more points with scrambles this season than Vick.

The problem is on designed rush plays, particularly those out of the Eagles preferred one-back set. Since 2010 the Eagles have run 2,564 offensive plays. Seventy percent have had exactly one running back in the backfield. In 2010 and 2011 Philadelphia averaged 5.8 yards per rush, ran for a first down on 30 percent of carries and added 51 expected points on designed rush plays with one running back.

This season, they are down to 4.3 yards per rush and have a -28 EPA on designed rush plays with one back.

One thing to note is that Michael Vick is not faultless here. Although his scrambling has once again been superb, his designed rushes have not been. His 1.4 QBR on 19 designed rush plays is well below the league average of 12.2.

One of the biggest reasons for this drop has to be surrounding the absence of offensive lineman Jason Peters. Philadelphia has long been a team that counts on getting yards before contact, and Peters has been a big part of it.

In 2010-11 designed rush plays the Eagles added 15 expected points on 576 rushes with him on the field. With Peters off the field they cost themselves one expected point on 176 rush attempts. This trend has continued in 2012 as Peters has not been on the field yet.

One formation that has worked this season for the Eagles on rush plays has rookie fullback Stanley Havili in the backfield with a tailback, along with the Eagles top three receiving options DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. This group has added +2.4 EPA on 25 designed rush attempts and another +2.7 on Vick scrambles. Compare this to their -42.3 EPA on rushes in all other formations. Ignoring two lost fumbles that Havili had little to do with, Philadelphia has been a better rushing team with its fullback in the game.

The small sample size says it’s far from a sure thing Havili is the answer to their rushing problems, but the early returns say the Eagles should be open to having their fullback on the field more often. It very well may turn around their rushing game - and potentially their season.

Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesTim Tebow had trouble when the Patriots sent heavy pressure at him on Sunday.
What Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos were able to do in the first quarter against the New England Patriots was something that was statistically difficult to maintain.

The Broncos inability to perform up to the level they played in the first 15 minutes allowed Tom Brady and the Patriots to surpass them in the stat that counts the most-- points.

Tebow’s issues against teams that send five or more pass rushers on a play came into play on Sunday. He was just 3-for-9 for 53 yards, 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter. The Broncos had won four straight games with fourth quarter comebacks, but they had no such magic on Sunday.

Conversely, Brady was 10-for-12 for 172 yards and a touchdown when the Broncos sent at least five rushers. The Patriots knew the Broncos would be blitzing frequently. Denver had blitzed the second-most frequently of any team since Week 9.

One of the biggest stories of this game wasn’t so much Tebow or Brady, but Aaron Hernandez, who had a career-high nine catches and 129 receiving yards, two more yards than he had in his previous two games combined.

Hernandez had five receptions on five targets, including a touchdown, for 96 yards when the Broncos sent extra pass rushers.

The Tebow magic, most evident in the fourth quarter the last few weeks, was present early in the game this week.

Denver had 15 rushes for 167 yards in the first quarter (according to Elias, the most in any quarter against a team that had Bill Belichick as its head coach), 123 of which came before being contacted by a Patriots defender (both single-quarter season highs).

Though they averaged 8.2 yards before contact per rush in the first quarter, the Broncos only attempted 16 designed rushes in the last three quarters, gaining 68 yards before contact (4.4 per rush) and 85 total yards.

Tebow, who completed 60 percent of his throws in the first quarter, completed just 42 percent in the last three.

The Broncos fell to 18-1 all-time in games in which they had at least 250 rushing yards.

Tebow’s 93 rushing yards were the second-most he’s had in a game in his career.

Lions set NFL record

The Detroit Lions late rally to beat the Oakland Raiders made NFL history.

The Lions became the first team in NFL history with four comebacks from 13 or more points down to win in a single season.

Matthew Stafford became the third quarterback in Lions history to surpass 4,000 passing yards in a season (Scott Mitchell and Jon Kitna, with Kitna doing it twice).

Calvin Johnson’s 214 receiving yards were the third-most in a game in Lions history, trailing Cloyce Box (302, 1950) and Richard Johnson (248, 1989)

Vick keeps Eagles alive

The Philadelphia Eagles remained barely alive for a playoff spot by beating the New York Jets handily.

Michael Vick had one of the best days he’s had as a passer in a long time. He was 10-for-14 for 251 yards on throws traveling more than ten yards downfield

The Jets entered the game allowing a league-low 37.7 completion percentage to opposing passers on throws of that distance.

LeSean McCoy also had a big day, setting team single-season records for rushing touchdowns (17) and total touchdowns (20), both marks previously set by Steve Van Buren in 1945.

The Eagles are 9-0 against the Jets, which according to Elias is the best unbeaten record for one team against another.

Kirby Lee/US PresswireMarshawn Lynch (right) finished with 123 yards against defensive fronts of eight or more, including 51 yards after contact.
It was a game the Philadelphia Eagles had to have. Instead, they allowed a season-high in rush yards (174) as the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch continually knocked them backwards en route to a 31-14 Seattle win.

Not that Philadelphia didn’t try to stop him.

The Eagles kept eight or more defenders in the box on 17 of Lynch’s 22 attempts, but to no avail. Lynch finished with 123 yards against defensive fronts of eight or more, including 51 yards after contact.

Both of his touchdowns came against eight-man fronts.

Overall, Lynch ran 22 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-highest rushing total of his career. He’s now scored a touchdown in eight straight games.

It was Lynch's fourth 100-yard game of the season with all of them coming in his last five outings. It was also the third multi-touchdown game of his career.

He accumulated a season-best 75 yards after contact. Since Week 9, he has led the NFL in yards after contact.

The Eagles did get a strong performance out of their own backfield, courtesy of LeSean McCoy.

McCoy carried 17 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and had four catches for 49 yards with a score. It was the third time in his career (and second time this season) McCoy had a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game.

But Vince Young threw a career-high four interceptions, one of which was returned 77 yards for a score by David Hawthorne. Three of Young’s interceptions came on throws of 15 or more yards downfield.

He now has eight interceptions this season on such passes, tied with the Redskins’ Rex Grossman for the NFL lead. Six of Young's eight downfield interceptions have been underthrown.

Overall, the Eagles turned it over four times; they lead the NFL with 29 turnovers. Philadelphia had 25 turnovers all of last season.

The Eagles have dropped two straight and four of their last five. At 4-8, they are assured of their fourth non-winning season in 13 years under Andy Reid.
In a game that both teams needed to win to keep pace in their respective divisions, it was the Chicago Bears that made the plays it needed in the fourth quarter.

Matt Forte
Chicago pulled out the tough road win despite uncharacteristic turnovers from star running back Matt Forte. Forte, who had not fumbled in 346 touches dating back to Week 7 last season, coughed it up twice. Both fumbles were recovered by the Philadelphia Eagles and led to 14 points.

Forte made up for those gaffes by rushing for 133 yards; the fourth time this season he's run for over 100 yards. Through eight games, Forte's 805 rush yards are the fifth-most by a Bears running back in the last 50 years. In that span, the only runners to post higher totals through eight games are Walter Payton and Gale Sayers.

Meanwhile, Jay Cutler made good decisions when facing added pressure, completing six of seven passes against five-or-more rushers. For just the second time since joining the Bears in 2009, Cutler was not sacked.

Cutler targeted former Vanderbilt teammate Earl Bennett five times Monday. Bennett, who hadn't played since Week 2, caught all five passes for 95 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

The Eagles continue to struggle late in games. This season Philadelphia has outscored its opponents by 57 points in the first three quarters of games, but have been outscored by 36 in the fourth quarter. Monday marked the fourth time this season Philadelphia lost a game in which they held a fourth-quarter lead. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Eagles are the third team in NFL history to lose four such games within its first eight games of a season. The only other teams to do that were the 1954 Packers and the 1999 Saints.

One bright spot for the Eagles in the loss was LeSean McCoy, who scored a touchdown in his eighth straight game to start the season, tying an Eagles record held by Steve Van Buren. Only four other running backs since the merger have accomplished the feat - the last coming in 1999 when Emmitt Smith did it.

Michael Vick completed 21 of 38 passes for 213 yards and an interception - which occurred in the Red Zone. Vick's five Red Zone turnovers this season are the most in the NFL. Vick falls to 0-4 in his career against the Bears, his worst record against any team.

The Eagles fall to 3-5, tied for last in the NFC East and three games back of the New York Giants.

Big-play backs highlight Bears-Eagles

November, 7, 2011
When the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles meet tonight, much of the focus will be on sensational running backs Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy.

Both players are having great seasons, with each entering the weekend in the top five of the NFL in rushing yards per game and total offense.

Heading into the weekend, Forte led all players with 1,091 yards of total offense, and McCoy was fifth in the league with 892.

McCoy’s NFL-best 107.7 yards per game on the ground leads an Eagles’ rushing attack that’s first in the NFL averaging 179.9 yards and is running the ball 46 percent of the time (the highest rate since Andy Reid became head coach in 1999).

LeSean McCoy
The Eagles haven’t finished a season with the league’s top rushing offense since 1990, when quarterback Randall Cunningham rushed for 942 yards. They also lead the league in total offense, something the team hasn’t done over an entire season since 1961.

Looking inside the numbers, Forte and McCoy are similar in their running styles.

Each is great at breaking tackles and gaining yards after first contact. Forte’s 289 rushing yards after initial contact is fifth-best in the NFL, while McCoy’s 258 yards rank eighth.

But regardless of the field position, both backs are capable of exploding for long runs. Each is in the top three of players with the most 20-yard rushes.

Forte has already matched his 2010 total of runs for at least 20 yards with a NFL-best nine, including his 32-yard TD run in the Bears last game against the Bucs in London. McCoy is right behind him with eight.

Matt Forte
In short-yardage situations, McCoy has the edge. The Eagles running back has recorded five touchdowns in 19 attempts in goal-to-go situations, including his first-quarter 2-yard TD run against the Cowboys last Sunday night.

Forte has not scored a touchdown in six attempts in a goal-to-go situation as Bears backup running back Marion Barber is Chicago’s primary goal-line back.

However, their main difference has come catching the ball out of the backfield. While McCoy is a good receiver in the Eagles’ passing game, Forte poses a threat for Philly’s defense as the best-receiving running back in the NFL.

Forte’s 419 receiving yards lead all NFL running backs, and his 51 targets out of the backfield identifies him as Jay Cutler’s primary option in the Bears passing game. This season, Forte has accounted for 46.2 percent of the Bears offense, highest among all NFL players.
The Bears like to get Forte out in the open field to create running room, as 377 of Forte’s 419 receiving yards have come after the catch. Forte was on the receiving end for the Bears' longest pass play this season: a 56-yard TD catch on a screen pass in Week 1 against the Falcons.

For McCoy, 190 of his 308 receiving yards (62 percent) have come after catches.

Finally, here's why both backs could have big games. Five NFL teams are allowing at least five yards per rush this season. The Bears and Eagles are two of them.
Seven touchdowns in two postseason starts -- that’s a performance that even Brett Favre couldn’t match.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been pretty good in his brief postseason career. Sunday, he was a difference-maker, outplaying Michael Vick in a 21-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rodgers was as good in the second meeting with the Eagles this season as he was in the first. When the Eagles sent four pass rushers his way, Rodgers went 13-for-16 for 132 yards and threw all three of his touchdown passes.

That was a near match for his Week 1 effort, in which he was 11-for-15 for 129 yards and one touchdown.

The seven touchdowns in two starts is the most by any quarterback in his first two postseason starts in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also has 603 passing yards in his two playoff starts. That’s 68 yards and two touchdowns better than what Favre did in his first pair of playoff starts.

The help for Rodgers came from a surprise star, rookie James Starks, who rushed for 123 yards. He had only 101 rushing yards in the regular season.

James Starks
According to Elias, that's the most rushing yards in a game for someone who had that few in the regular season since 1995, when Zack Crockett (zero regular-season rushing yards) rushed for 147 yards for the Indianapolis Colts in a win over the San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card round. No one had done that prior to Crockett, so Starks finds himself in elite company.

Starks dominated out of the three-back set, rushing eight times for 61 yards and three first downs. He averaged 4.1 yards per rush on his other 15 carries.

While Rodgers & Co. had a fine day, Vick received little help. Our video review showed the Eagles' receivers dropping five of his pass attempts. Eagles receivers had dropped only five passes TOTAL since the start of Week 14, and hadn’t had as many as five dropped passes in a game since Week 2.

Vick was one of the best passers during the regular season on play-action passes, compiling a 116.7 passer rating on such passes, fourth-best in the league (minimum 75 attempts). The Eagles twice called a play-action pass in the first quarter, but Green Bay forced Vick to scramble both times. Philadelphia’s only play-action pass attempt came in the third quarter on a failed screen pass to LeSean McCoy.

David Akers
Vick may feel bad, but the player who probably feels the worst after this one is Eagles kicker David Akers. This was the first time in 19 postseason games that Akers missed a pair of field goal attempts in the same game. He had been 18-for-19 in his previous 10 postseason contests.

One final note from the Elias Sports Bureau: Including playoffs, the Packers beat the Eagles twice this season in Philadelphia. The only other team in NFL history that beat the Eagles twice -- including playoffs -- in Philadelphia in the same season is the 1981 Giants. They beat the Eagles in Week 12 (20-10), then beat them again in the Wild-Card round (27-21).
For the second straight year, ESPN Stats & Information did video analysis of every NFL game, tracking a new collection of statistics and storylines. With the regular season now over, we wrap it up by recognizing the best of what these new stats had to offer. We unveil the 2010 NFL Next-Level Awards. This section covers receivers, running backs and the defensive side of the ball.

Deep Threat: Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Best WR on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield

Mike Wallace
While not “receiving” as much attention as fellow Pennsylvania speedster DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace was the most efficient deep threat this season. Despite ranking tied for ninth in targets, Wallace led the league with seven touchdowns on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield. His seven touchdowns at that distance were more than the Cardinals, Dolphins, Rams and Raiders COMBINED.

Wallace’s reliability was evident: he did not have a single drop on the season; all of his deep incompletions were either overthrown or defended.

Locked and Loaded: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Best RB facing a loaded box

LeSean McCoy, literally, ran away with this award thanks to some hard-nosed running -- an aspect of his game that often is overlooked. Being surrounded by weapons like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin overshadowed the fact that McCoy was the league’s best back in 2010 when there were more defenders in the box than available blockers (creating a loaded box).

LeSean McCoy
Fourteen running backs had at least 30 attempts against a loaded box this season. McCoy finished in the top four in rushing yards (207), touchdowns (three) and attempts per first down (2.8), despite having the fewest carries of those 14 backs (36).

Also, McCoy was more than up to the task of running out the clock. One-third of his rushes against a loaded box came in the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading. McCoy rushed 12 times for 85 yards and three first downs in those situations. His 7.1 yards per rush was tops among backs with at least 10 carries.

Speed Rush: Kansas City Chiefs
Best pass defense when blitzing one DB or more

The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense can give all the love to Romeo. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel brought about big change in his first season with the team. In 2009, the Chiefs were the second-worst team in the NFL when bringing pass pressure with one or more defensive backs. Kansas City’s opponents' passer rating with secondary pressure was 101.9, worst in the AFC.

This season, the Chiefs set the standard in this area, topping the league across the board when blitzing. One reason may be the addition of strong safety Eric Berry, the fifth pick in the 2010 draft. Berry started every game for the Chiefs, picking up four interceptions and 3½ tackles for loss (each led the team by a defensive back).

Another reason may be the excellent coverage of cornerback Brandon Carr, who led the NFL with 19 passes defended, as scouted by ESPN Stats & Information.

Defensive Coordinator’s Best Friend: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins
Best defender on 3rd-and-5 or longer

Cameron Wake
Cameron Wake excelled in demanding situations this season, particularly when opposing offenses faced a third down with at least five yards to go. In those circumstances, Wake recorded 6½ of the Dolphins’ league-leading 21 sacks, and helped them shed 1.4 yards per attempt off their 2009 season average (7.9). He also recorded five of his sacks on pass rushes of four players or fewer (T-1st in NFL), allowing the Dolphins to drop more defenders into pass coverage.

Also playing into Wake’s favor was the end result of those sacks. Two of Wake’s 6½ sacks resulted in fumble recoveries by the Dolphins (one resulting in a touchdown), equaling DeMarcus Ware and Justin Tuck's sack-turnover total combined. Wake recorded four of his sacks in Miami territory, which pushed two field goal attempts from inside 40 yards to more than 45 yards.

Ball Hawk: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
Best DB on passes at least 15 yards downfield

Patriots rookie Devin McCourty was one of the best defensive backs against the deep ball. He led the league with seven interceptions and 14 pass disruptions (interceptions plus passes defended) on balls thrown at least 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.

McCourty recorded all of his picks this season on deep balls, and he did not do it against slouches either. He intercepted passes intended for Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garçon and Braylon Edwards, as well as defending balls intended for Terrell Owens, Percy Harvin and Todd Heap.

McCourty showed a penchant for making a big play when the Patriots needed one. Five of his seven picks came in the second half of games, and of those five interceptions, three came with the Pats up by two scores or fewer, halting any potential comeback.
DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson had another huge game for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night in a 30-27 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Jackson had four catches for a career-high 210 yards, the third-highest single-game total in franchise history. And he did most of that damage off of play-action fakes.

In fact, when Michael Vick used play-action he was 3-for-3 for 173 yards and a 91-yard touchdown when targeting Jackson, completing just one of the five passes he threw Jackson’s way without the play fake.

Overall, Vick had a 104.2 passer rating and two touchdown passes using play-action and averaged nearly 19 yards per attempt. Without the play-action fake, his rating was 49.5 without a touchdown and just 5.1 yards per pass attempt.

That continues a trend where Vick uses play-action fakes to freeze the defense and allow Jackson to outrun the coverage.

Vick is over five times more likely to throw a play-action TD to Jackson than anyone else, and he averaged an incredible 57.7 yards per attempt to Jackson on Sunday.

And when the Eagles didn’t fake the run, LeSean McCoy ran all over the Cowboys defense, especially up the middle. McCoy rushed for 120 yards on 12 attempts between the tackles Sunday night (10.0 yards per attempt). Dallas entered Week 14 having allowed only 3.0 yards per attempt up the middle this season, third-lowest in the NFL.